Why are some people entrepreneurs and others not? Do we understand what is, really, an entrepreneur? And if we did, would that not help us create more entrepreneurs and become more entrepreneurial?
Believe it or not, there is actually something called Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice. This is when professors, scholars, researchers study entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. You would be surprised to find the number of different ways people define entrepreneurs and how much of our definitions are based on subjective opinion. This can be a dangerous thing for the society when people believe that the best entrepreneurs are “college dropouts who pursued their passion”. When in actual fact, the research shows that the majority of SUCCESSFUL (3 years + running a growing business) entrepreneurs have at the least, a degree (sometimes masters), have worked in corporate for an average of 15 years and are averaged at age 39 with 2 children. Now, what is your definition of an entrepreneur?
“Entrepreneurs are born not made”. This was a widely held view until evidence showed that in fact entrepreneurs are created by their culture, the environment and other experiences which form their entrepreneurial intention (Venter and Urban, 2015). One could argue, we all have the ability, as humans, but the risks and opportunities in your environment differentiate the dreamers to the do-ers.
I would even argue that entrepreneurship is an innate human phenomenon expressed through the economic system of the time. In the 20th century, this was largely industrial and monetary. The, now emerging, is more based on impact and money. Notice the theme of money in recent years (monetary system). Going even further back (way back in time) it would have been based on berries and meat. We will get to this in more detail in part 2.
What I would like to touch on now, is that in recent years, entrepreneurship has emerged as an official distinct academic field by definition and by how to become one (at leasat theoretically).
Anyone can show you and tell you how to ride a bicycle but you will not know how, until you ride the bicycle. At least you may end up with fewer bruises, grazes and broken bones.
The study is supported by a string of theories and models that have encapsulated what the field is about. (That is academic talk for – “It is a real deal”). It is generally viewed as a form of management. The truth is that the way we managed in the 20th century is now becoming irrelevant. It gave rise to large multinational and industrial companies such as Kodak, Nokia, Xerox, Motorola, Blockbuster (the list goes on). However where are they all now? Seriously? Where? The rapid changes in society, technology and markets call for innovation not to be a “once in a while thing”, but an ongoing way of business. We can see this with the annual groundbreaking expose’s held by the Facebooks, Apples and Googles.
Entrepreneurship is becoming applicable and relevant to other fields other than management, such as psychology, social anthropology to mathematical economics. This creates different perspectives on its definition (Venter and Urban, 2015). When we look at all the theory and practice there is consensus on four key elements. These are core: when it comes to what makes an “entrepreneurship” amongst scholars. In no specific order these are (Urban, 2017):
1) Idea generation, creativity and innovation
2) Opportunity recognition
3) High achievement orientation and ambition
4) Risk taking and resourcefulness
Where do you fit in this construct? How do you measure as an entrepreneur? There is a misconception that in a “job” you cannot be entrepreneurial. However, intrapreneurship is essentially entrepreneurship but from within an existing organisation. If we know what is an entrepreneur, then how can you become one (in 12 weeks)?. If we know the destination, how do we get there?
The paper by Moroz, P.W. & Hindle, K. (2012). Entrepreneurship as a Process says “entrepreneurship is a process where individuals – either on their own or as an organisation – pursue opportunities”. This looks very academic and theoretical. However in actual fact this is the process you go through every time you make a decision, every time you bake a cake, go on a date or host a braai (barbeque). Doing more of these, combine this with the intention of being entrepreneurial and you can change your life, change the world. But how?